November 1 has past and despite the relief of getting through this landmark date for schools with early deadlines of November 1, we now need to look forward to November 15 early deadlines. They are approaching. Also coming is the University of California and the California State deadline of November 30. Just when it felt like it was time to relax, it is not.
Early deadlines seem to keep coming and coming. So, once again, be vigilant and focused. No resting on laurels as these will come fast. As always, the biggest hurdle are the essays. Make sure you answer the questions. Make sure you engage the reader. I read an essay this morning by one of my students, and I yawned before I finished the first sentence. Now it just so happens that this student is lively, engaging and quite funny. None of that personality showed up in her essay as it was dry, boring and systematic.
For those of you still writing, I would like to reiterate – Personal Statement. The person is you, obviously. But the tone and language is you too. Help the reader want to finish your essay. If you are writing like it is a brick you are carrying around, guess what, it will read like a brick. Be creative, be exciting. Take some risk. And by all means have some fun.
Now that we have that out of the way, I do want to charge into a new area. We all know about agents, but there is a particular breed that I would like to focus on today: Agents who assist students with their art portfolios. While this is not an overall bad thing, it can turn into an unnecessary expenditure and waste of time.
For the most part these agents focus or at least should focus on students who attend schools with no art department or program. Students who attend schools like this and have no teacher to guide them surely need some help. But students who attend schools with strong art programs absolutely do not need this kind of help. Schools hire professional art teachers who are distinctly aware of the entry requirements of schools around the world. Teachers of AP, IB, A Level particularly have the background to assist any student looking to enter art school.
Most importantly, AP, IB and A Level students are, through their required curriculum, creating pieces that are definitely appropriate for what any art school is looking for in the portfolio you need to submit. Further, these teachers can guide and direct you to create your own personal piece for special projects schools may ask for in admission. Finally, these teachers, and this is important, know your art and artistic ability. They are the go to people to help create your portfolio just like you might have your English teacher review your university essays.
What is a shame is that families feel that the teachers at the schools their children attend are no qualified, yet are willing to give money to someone who has, possibly, no qualification to assist. And it can be a lot of money!!!! Worse case scenario, the families are essentially buying art not helping their child learn to be creative and think independently.
So, future artists out there – look at what you already have before you and your families invest in something you may not need. Over the last couple of weeks, a number of art schools have been traveling through China giving Previews (read Portfolio reviews) to students who come. These have been a great opportunity for students to have their work reviewed and commented on. These are admission officers who will be reviewing your work and making decisions on your portfolio. They will comment on what they like, how to put your portfolio together. Often these sessions are held at school and art teachers usually are attending as well.
Finally, artists need to interpret and create – independently. There is no need to pay unless, as I said, your school does not have an art program. The worst part of this, is that students end up wasting a lot of time creating pieces of art that most likely will not satisfy their AP, IB, or A Level portfolios. So, one last time, your grades matter and particularly your art grade. If your grade suffers because you have been doing something else for someone else, how do you think a university or college is going to think you will do in their classes?